Racial profiling - separate and unequal keeping the minorities in line - the role of law enforcement in America.

Author:Walker, April
 
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  1. INTRODUCTION II. THE HISTORY OF POLICING AND THE MODERN TREND III. DOES RACE, RELIGION, OR ETHNICITY INCREASE A PERSON'S CHANCE OF BECOMING A VICTIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY? A. Race/Ethnicity as a Factor B. Commission report findings C. Excessive force D. Racial Profiling E. Pre-Textual Stops F. Religion as a Factor IV. DOES GENDER OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF BECOMING A VICTIM OF POLICE BRUTALITY? A. Law enforcement violence against women B. Violence against the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) V. (THE CONSEQUENCES OF REPORTING POLICE BRUTALITY) RETALIATION BY POLICE OFFICERS FOR REPORTING POLICE BRUTALITY VI. QUALIFIED IMMUNITY VII. SELF-DEFENSE AND JUSTIFICATION VIII. SOLUTIONS FOR COMBATING POLICE BRUTALITY IX. CONCLUSION I. INTRODUCTION

    "The dynamics surrounding an encounter between a police officer and a black male are quite different from those that surround an encounter between an officer and the so-called average reasonable person." (1) "This applies to black men of all economic strata, regardless of their ... education, ... job status or place in the community." (2) During the recent highly publicized traffic stop, caught on the officer's in-car camera, (3) a Dallas policeman, Robert Powell, refused to allow Texans (4) running back Ryan Moats and his family to reach the bedside of a dying family member. (5) The officer threatened Moats with arrest for running a traffic light. (6) Filled with grief, Moats' wife and aunt rushed into the hospital despite the fact the officer had his gun pulled. (7) Distressed, Moats and his father-in-law tried to explain the urgency of the matter, but the officer utilized immoral discretion and continued to detain them in the hospital emergency parking lot. (8) A nurse and hospital security guards also confirmed the player's story to Officer Powell. (9)

    "You really want to go through this right now?" Moats said. "My mother-in-law is dying, right now." (10)

    "Shut your mouth," Officer Powell said at one point. (11) "You can cooperate and settle down, or I can just take you to jail for running a red light." (12)

    A storm of outrage gathered over the Dallas police department; (13) Powell was first placed on an administrative leave, but then later resigned. (14) Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle called a news conference and apologized for the behavior of Officer Powell and chastised him for lack of compassion, discretion and common sense. (15) "Moats, in an interview with a Dallas radio station, said the officer's intransigence robbed him and his father-in-law of irreplaceable moments in a time of grief that morphed, after the officer pulled a weapon on Moats and his wife, into moments of confusion and terror." (16)

    "The broader notion of [good and fair] policing still survives in the American constitutional doctrine of police powers, in which the Supreme Court explicitly treats policing as encompassing the tasks of governance," (17) however, "[p]olicing is inherently political because social control is a core and contested task of governance." (18) Although, the law stands at the center of modern American life, (19)

    for ... years, there has been, through the courts and the streets a dreary procession of citizens with [unjustified charges], broken heads, and bruised bodies against few of whom was violence needed to effect an arrest." (20) "Many of them had done nothing to deserve an arrest." (21) "In a majority of such cases, no complaint was made." (22) "[However], [i]f the victim [did] complain, his charge is generally dismissed; the police are practically above the law. (23) Many victims, along with the police that brutalize them, mistakenly believe that "[t]here is more law at the end of a policeman's nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court." (24)

    This article will explore the history of modern policing and examine police brutality at the early stages of the implementation of law enforcements in this country. Also, this article will address whether race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnicity contributes to higher incidents of police brutality and review common misconceptions by the public about police brutality and retaliation against citizens who report police brutality. This article will define the term qualified immunity and highlight its application towards police officials and district attorneys, while also analyzing highly publicized cases and their dispositions. Lastly, this article will address possible solutions to combating the problem of police brutality, which has plagued American society, leaving victims and many others exposed to this uprising endemic.

  2. THE HISTORY OF POLICING AND THE MODERN TREND

    The eras of American Policing are often described in terms of three historical periods; the Political Era (1840-1920) describes the close ties that developed between the police and urban political leaders. (25) "In many cities, the police appeared to work for the mayor or the political party in power rather than for the citizens in general." (26)

    In the Professional Era, (1920-1970) "policing was greatly influenced by the Progressive reform movement in the early twentieth century." (27) The progressives were mostly upper-middle class, educated Americans. One of their goals was the removal of political influences, such as party politics and patronage on government. "[T]hey envisioned professional law enforcement officials who would use modern technology to benefit the entire society, not just ... local politicians." (28)

    During the Community Era, (1970-Present) "there were calls for movement away from the overriding crime-fighting focus and toward greater emphasis on maintaining order and providing services to the community." (29)

    As the decline of community life and the concentration of power in state and corporate bureaucracies intersect with increasingly inescapable violence on urban streets and in our homes, it is not surprising that our concerns about community, democracy, and public safety have joined forces in a reform like community policing. (30) Yet, despite our nation's move towards a community-based service, police brutality, which law enforcement officials have defined as the use of excessive physical force or verbal assault and psychological intimidation, (31) "is one of the most serious, enduring, and divisive human rights violations in the United States." (32) "The problem is nationwide, and its nature is institutionalized." (33) Police brutality may include false arrest, (34) retaliation, (35) intimidation, (36) racial profiling, (37) secret surveillance, (38) sexual abuse, (39) and corruption of police officers. (40)

    Over the last several years, police brutality in the U.S. and across its boarders has gradually increased. (41) Moreover, the issues of race, language barriers, and gender closely shadow reoccurring incidents. (42) In addition, the injustices suffered by victims of racial discrimination are well known. "Historically, racism has been defined as the belief that race is the primary determinant of human capacities." (43) In effect, racism suggests "that individuals should be treated differently according to their racial designation." (44)

    [T]he very fact that most victims of police brutality are members of poor and minority communities should be cause for concern, and contributes to the perception that the police are more likely to engage in force when dealing with a minority suspect than when dealing with a non-minority suspect. (45) "Capital flight, corporate downsizing, redlining, and various other routine corporate practices weaken" the resilience of local communities and low-income communities' capacity to respond to changes in their environment. (46) They lack the resources, "like social capital-resources, that allow responses to crime that also preserve and protect our children [and] families ... from various unaccountable powers" that sadly, plague poor communities. (47) "Like most of us, ... [but] unlike economists, police do not make their choices by a rational calculation of comparative economic values." (48) Furthermore, "[d]espite the social and economic progress of African-Americans over the past fifty years, Americans continue to live in a country where racial ... [inequity] is the norm." (49) "The dominant belief about Blacks, upon which their legal rights, or lack thereof, were historically constructed, was the belief in their ontological inferiority." (50) "[In] Traditional Americanism, black people are [still] perceived as poor, lazy, lustful, ignorant, and prone to ... criminal behavior." (51)

    Today, many police officers still hold those faulty beliefs, demonstrated by the publicized street beating of Rodney King, (52) the sodomizing of Abner Louima (53) in a police station house bathroom, and the killing of Amadou Diallo. (54)

    Sean Bell, (55) which a police spokesman referred to as aberrational, simply illustrates the widespread police brutality and harassment in minority neighborhoods. (56) The sheer violence and horror of these crimes creates a wide public outrage, which often can lead to mass activism. (57) However, police officers are rarely indicted, tried, or convicted. (58)

    "All too often, racial minorities have been disadvantaged by criminal procedure rules that are race-neutral, as the rules have had a disproportionate effect on communities of color." (59) "The chain of radicalized terror that spanned [during] slavery, lynching, and police whippings (60) remains unbroken as the brutalization of ... [minorities] is routinely, [but unfortunately,] practiced in today's criminal justice system." (61) "Like lynchings and police whippings, contemporary police brutality is not an exception to [current] law." (62)

    Nonetheless, "[c]urrent legal doctrine [seems to] condone police brutality and makes individual acts of abuse appear isolated, aberrational, and acceptable rather than part of a systematic pattern of official violence. (63) Thus...

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